I’m a Professor. I’m also a Fraud.

Not many people have the privilege of earning the title “professor”. I’m very fortunate to have it. But it’s all a lie.

When you hear the word professor what do you think?

Somebody who stands at a podium giving lectures to people in college or university. Somebody who professes their knowledge on a specific topic. Somebody who says things like “welcome to the hallowed halls of academia”. Somebody who wears poorly fitting tweed blazers with elbow patches and pleated pants.

None of those describe me.

That all sounds very one-way. It puts me on a pedestal above people. And that’s definitely not my sense of style.

The first rule of marketing is: it’s not about you. Marketing is about who you help and understanding what they need. It’s being present in moments when they need something from you. It’s doing this consistently to build a relationship with them.

The only thing I profess is that marketing is an essential literacy. My professional heart and mind is deeply committed to marketing, learning and experience design. Why? Because I fundamentally believe in Peter Drucker’s words:

Business has only two functions: marketing and innovation.

Peter Drucker

My role in the learning environment isn’t as a professor. It’s as a learning experience designer and a facilitator. It’s to encourage people get into the messiness of learning about marketing and digital media for themselves.

We come together as a learning group–in either a physical or virtual space–to interact with each other on a certain topic in my areas of specialization:

  • Marketing strategy and planning
  • Marketing measurement and analytics
  • Content marketing
  • Social media marketing

What I do is spark interest in the topic. Identify key concepts/processes to understand. Ask questions that encourage thinking and discussion. Prompt people to share their experiences, ideas and perspectives. Help them build specific skills to apply in their marketing careers.

We all up our marketing game together in this learning environment.

The core principles of marketing haven’t really changed over time. However, how they come to life in market and through ever evolving online media channels is at a pace no one person can keep up with on their own.

Throwing 50 brains on a marketing or digital media topic–all of us coming at it with unique perspectives, experiences and levels of skill–is so much better than one brain.

Why is it important for me to maintain this perspective?

Because acting like a marketer makes me a better teacher. And thriving as a learner-centred teacher will make me a better marketer. It’s a virtuous cycle using complementary skills that’s nicely explained in the article 7 Reasons to Hire a Former Teacher for a Content Marketing Job from the Content Marketing Institute:

  1. Teachers are explainers
  2. Teachers are planners
  3. Teachers know the proper ways to use research
  4. Teachers believe in measured progress
  5. Teachers are quick learners
  6. Teachers are used to the ‘battle for attention’
  7. Teachers are relationship builders

This means that the best professors aren’t speakers; we’re engagers. We aren’t lecturers; we’re questioners and story sharers. The following passage from the article really resonates with me:

All of us can name significant teachers from our past. In some cases, the bond was forged on the quality of the information the teacher provided. In more cases, I suspect, it was because of the way the teacher made you feel. Often, it’s a combination of the two.

And, isn’t the goal of content marketing to build relationships? Not only does this require content marketers to learn how to share the right information, but also how to make our prospects feel empowered and optimistic after the transfer of information.

It nicely captures why I do what I do and how I approach marketing, learning and experience design.

Oh yeah, if you really must call me a professor, don’t expect any long-winded lectures or poor-fitting clothing. And when I wear a tweed blazer it will be decidedly on point.

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